Global study suggests short-term travel bounce-back, but not in ANZ

05 September 2021 3 min. read
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Oliver Wyman has surveyed people from a number of leading economies on their readiness to travel, with Australians toward the bottom of the list.

The survey from the global strategy and management consulting firm has found that a third of respondents in a number of leading economies feel comfortable travelling now, with two thirds expecting to take a trip in the next six months, yet Australia significantly lags. Understandably, the results demonstrate some, but not total, correlation between travel readiness and local immunity rates together with the stringency of national restrictions.

Taking in the views of 5,300 residents in nine countries across Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific (who had taken at least one trip in 2019 and nearly nine tenths of whom were or intended to be vaccinated), the survey found that over half of the respondents in France and the US felt it was okay to travel now. The two nations have achieved immunity rates of between close to 60 percent to 70 percent, with respective ‘moderate’ and ‘low’ lockdown policies.

Factors influencing readiness to travel, by country

In Australia meanwhile, less than one in five respondents felt comfortable to currently travel, well below the global average of 32 percent. Australia’s ‘immunity’ rate however – considered by the report authors as both immunity from natural infection (confirmed and undetected) and immunisation – trails the other nations surveyed by some margin, at just a touch over 10 percent. The next lowest was China, at around 33 percent.

The most notable outlier of the survey was the United Kingdom, which had an estimated immunity rate of 80 percent (the highest of all countries ahead of the US and then a cohort of other highly impacted nations including France, Italy and Spain), yet stated a present comfortability with travel at a level lower than Australia (at around 10 percent). China and Canada too were less inclined toward travel, despite in Canada’s instance an immunity rate of above one half.

Travel plans and bookings for 2021

All up, two thirds of those surveyed expected to travel within the next six months, although over 90 percent had yet to book a ticket. Three-quarters of the leisure travellers surveyed now expect to travel the same as previously or even more in the future, compared to before the pandemic, with around half expecting to go abroad within the three months of the survey’s completion date in the last half of June. Australian travellers are highly unlikely to have that opportunity.

Business travel?

As for business travel, around three quarters now expect the same level of jet-setting or even greater than pre-pandemic (a much more optimistic outlook compared to Oliver Wyman’s previous survey in October), with the consultancy expecting some form of ‘catch-up’ in the short-term. Interestingly, Australia and China, the two nations reporting the lowest level of comfort for travel at present, were cited as among those with the greatest keenness for extra business excursions.

Busines stravel plans and impact on volumes

Elsewhere, prospective travellers consider surface cleaning and air filtration as the most important health and safety measures, although around one third still want masks to be mandatory onboard and would prefer the seat next to them on planes and trains to be empty. About a quarter of travellers also think proof of a Covid-19 test or vaccination is important, with 85 percent of those vaccinated or planning to be happy with participating in a ‘vaccine passport’ system.

“A year and a half into the pandemic, the outlook for travel is much brighter but is still being buffeted by the slow pace of vaccinations in some geographies, unease over new Covid-19 variants, and uneven government policies regarding travel restrictions,” stated the authors. “While this situation continues, we expect leisure travel to be dominated by shorter trips, closer to home, with more bookings made close to travel dates.”